/ Bank Accounts

Best Bank Accounts

Criteria

  • No account minimums
  • No maintenance fees
  • Mobile deposit (ie, deposit checks via taking a photo from your phone)
  • ATM fee reimbursement (online only banks clearly don't have their own ATMs, so they reimburse fees incurred by you at other bank ATMs. Do not use one of those weird free standing ATMs - they will likely charge additional fees that will not be reimbursed by your bank)
  • Free bank to bank transfers for accounts you own (surprisingly, some brick and mortar banks actually charge for this!)
  • FDIC Insurance (though I doubt there's actually any US bank out there without FDIC insurance)

All the bank accounts on this page meet the above requirements

Nice extras

  • Free checks
  • No foreign transaction fees for charges to your debit card (typically you are charged 3% of the transaction)
  • Free stop payments (if you wish to cancel a check you have issued)
  • Free incoming domestic and/or international wire transfers
  • Free outgoing domestic and/or international wire transfers
  • Low or no fee for returned checks (most banks will charge you, not the check writer, if you deposit a bad check)

General Savings: Ally, Rate Chasing

If you want to chase the best rate, Doctor of Credit keeps a list of the best rates on savings accounts.

Otherwise, I'm a fan of Ally. They generally don't have the absolute best rate but it's usually competitive.

Large Mobile Deposits: Ally

My primary bank account has a limit of $5000 per check for mobile deposit, but Ally has a $50,000 limit.

Online banks will typically also allow you to mail in a check if it exceeds the mobile deposit limit, but I'd rather not take the risk of a large check being lost in the mail.

International Travel: Schwab or Fidelity

Both Schwab and Fidelity offer accounts (High Yield Investor Checking and Cash Management, respectively) that will reimburse ATM fees from any bank's ATM anywhere in the world and don't charge a foreign transaction fee for these withrawals.[1] Schwab reimburses ATM fees at the end of the month, whereas Fidelity reimburses them within a few days.

Unfortunately Schwab does a hard pull on your credit to open an account with them. Fidelity does not.

I have both accounts and move money into both of them before every foreign trip. It's always good to have a backup if one of your debit cards refuses to work.

General Checking: Schwab

They have no minimum balance requirement, no monthly fees, and no foreign transaction fees. What's not to like?

Rewards Checking: Consumers Credit Union

Rewards checking accounts require you to jump through hoops, but you get a higher interest rate in return.

Consumers Credit Union is effectively an online only credit union (they only have branches in Illinois) that offers a rewards checking account with up to 4.59% interest.
In order to get 3% interest rate, every month you have to

  • Log into your online account at least once
  • Elect to receive eStatements
  • Receive a direct deposit or have a ACH debit
  • Make at least 12 debit transactions

To meet the last requirement I send money to my friend 12 times with my debit card via Square Cash for no fee, and he sends it back.

To get the 4.59% interest rate, you have to meet the previous four requirements and spend $1000 a month on one of their credit cards.

They're a part of the CO-OP credit union network, a network of nearly 30,000 ATMs and 5,000 branches. At any branch in the network, you can deposit checks that are beyond Consumers Credit Union's $5000 mobile deposit limit. You can also deposit cash into your account! This is otherwise impossible for online only banks.

This is my primary bank account.


  1. Technically Fidelity says they will charge a 1% fee for foreign ATM withdrawals, but in practice they don't charge it 99.9% of the time ↩︎

Best Bank Accounts
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